Updated: Feb 26, 2019
My Photoshoot with The Australian Breastfeeding Project & my Breastfeeding Journey.
Beautiful bare skin, feet grounding into the Earth, angelic white dresses representing mother's milk, breath-taking surrounds of nature, a group of Mothers nursing their babes
from newborn, toddler and beyond.
This is what caught my eye and spoke to my heart, I stopped scrolling and clicked on
The Australian Breastfeeding Project Instagram page. The more I read, the more nourished, understood and supported I felt. I knew I had to attend a shoot! Founded & run by the inspiring Sarah Murnane, and now involving other photographers all over Australia, the ABP is vastly growing and touching the hearts of so many mothers & communities. Photoshoots all over the country bring mothers together to raise awareness and #normalisebreastfeeding. At first some may think 'great, a #breastisbest group to shame formula feeding’ NOT AT ALL.
The ABP is strongly passionate about information & support
to mothers and stand by #informedisbest
So I’ll say right now this post is not to shame, pressure or make anyone feel superior. If you feel you may be triggered by this blog you don’t need to read any further. This is just to shine light on things I found on MY JOURNEY and felt were really important to know as a first time mum.
I felt so very passionate about breastfeeding and going into the unknown I wanted as many tools I could find, so stumbling across this page was no coincidence & has been such a blessing in my journey! After delving into the online Facebook Group reading different mothers stories & experiences, and opening myself to the wealth of information and knowledge being shared by many passionate professionals, I found ALL of my fears were eased and all the misinformation I had unconsciously believed which had been fed to me by media, family, friends, etc completely dissolved. I replaced all of that free space with belief in the natural rhythm & power of my body & baby, empowering affirmations and a calm, clear mind backed by knowledge & understanding.
I was now thinking of my breastfeeding journey from a place of LOVE & UNDERSTANDING, not from fear or the unknown.
So many woman are not given the opportunity to seek other alternatives if for what ever reason unable to breastfeed from the get go and are sometimes pushed straight toward formula feeding, even though there are options that may allow them the support to breastfeed. Of course, there are many factors, situations, scenarios and every body & baby is completely different, I just want to bring to light the other options and reduce the stigma about donor milk & natural term breastfeeding which is what the ABP is all about!
'WHO recommends mothers worldwide to exclusively breastfeed infants for the child's first six months to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, they should be given nutritious complementary foods and continue breastfeeding up to the age of
two years or beyond.''
Whether you exclusively breastfeed, bottle feed expressed breastmilk, use donor milk, mix feed, use a SNS (supplemental nursing system), formula feed and so on, this is a group that fiercely supports Mothers to have the tools and knowledge to allow their baby to thrive, not just survive.
You can find the ABP Online Support Group here
• Did you know most formula is made using cow’s milk. And whether you are vegan or not, if you think about how big a cow is, that their milk is made to nourish & support the growth of a baby cow to a full grown cow, it really seems odd we use another species milk (especially one as large as a cow!) yet using our own species milk is ‘gross’. Of course there are other varieties available. But check out this article showing ingredients list of a general Formula & Breastmilk here, trust me you will be blown away by the comparison! I feel this is standard information we should be given.
• Did you know saliva from your baby triggers your breasts & body into producing exactly what your babe needs in the next nurse. Babies can’t produce antibodies until 2 years old so if they are getting ill, they are more likely to recover quickly as your body produces & transfers antibodies to them through your milk! How absolutely magic is that!
• Breastmilk is a powerfull natural remedy for nappy rash, gunky eyes, cradle cap, and so on! When my milk would drip I would just move my boob all over Austyn’s little body to soak it alllll up! he he Isn't mother nature wonderFULL!
• Eye to eye contact and skin to skin while breastfeeding is hugely beneficial for bonding & secure attachment, regulation of body temperature, meeting babies emotional needs, allows mother to see cues more easily, promotes trust & the list goes on. This doesn't even mention the amazing benefits for mama!
Knowing information like this really fueled my passion to breastfeed and gave me solid foundation to stand my ground when things got tough. After he was born I struggled with latching which is the first hurdle & cause of many other issues (painful nipples as not enough breast tissue in their mouth, mastitis as breast isn't drained efficiently, etc) however I stayed calm and trusted in the process. I studied the latching chart at the hospital, I wasn't afraid to ask numerous midwives for help which each gave me different information & perspectives each time, read article upon articles of different techniques of how to hold him so he felt safe & comfortable. After the first couple of weeks just learning his cues, knowing that cluster feeding is normal (and not a sign of low milk supply) & simply feeding on demand, I felt like a pro! And I am so glad to say I haven't encountered any issues, which I really put down to be informed and prepared, so I am calm. Not stressing out of fear of this and that.
Austyn was about 11 months old here and is still breastfeeding. My intention is to allow him to naturally 'wean' when he decides, as long as I continue to feel comfortable. If for any reason I get 'touched out' or getting frustrated, this is normally a signal I need more self care and support, so I reach out and ask for it! It is not always easy journey, like anything, but it is worth it knowing I’m giving him a massive kick start in his health & emotional well being.
Before finding the ABP, I truly had no idea about natural term breastfeeding & how beautiful it is, or about donor milk! Although I haven't had any issues with my supply myself, I really feel like this is information that should be shared with all mothers (during antenatal classes, doctor app, at hospital, etc) to make fully informed decisions in their journeys. I was always told breastfeeding a toddler or older child was 'disgusting' & got grossed out about human milk because it isn't seen or discussed as 'normal', but all that is just ridiculous when you begin to open your perspective & clear the fog of misinformation & insecurities of others.
Please go check out Human Milk for Human Babies if you want more information or are seeking donor milk. Read up about natural term breastfeeding and see others experiences to gain perspective.
Thank you for being here. I hope this helps at least one Mum feel more informed, supported and know there is always help. Sometimes we have to dig through a lot of fear-based, disempowering 'crap' but at least there a fantastic groups & movements out there like the Australian Breastfeeding Project #feedingthechange!